The Laval Rocket scored two power play goals in the third period to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 tie, but a quick goal shortly after gave the Lehigh Valley Phantoms a 3-2 win on Saturday night in Allentown.
The Rocket put in a valiant effort in the second game of their three-game weekend that saw them in Utica, NY on Friday night, and headed to Hershey on Sunday evening, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Phantoms.
More precisely, it wasn’t enough to beat Phantoms goaltender Samuel Ersson, who made 31 saves and was the biggest reason that the Rocket were not able to at least force overtime, if not win outright in regulation. The shot chart below (Laval shots in orange) show that the Rocket did all they could at both ends of the ice.
In the end, it was mistakes that cost the Rocket. Just four minutes into the game, a neutral zone turnover saw the Phantoms gain the Laval zone. Jackson Cates found a trailing Ronnie Attard for a one-time slap shot from the right circle that beat Cayden Primeau to give Lehigh Valley a 1-0 lead.
In the second period, while Laval was on a power play, a lazy shift and lazier forecheck and defensive zone coverage allowed the Phantoms to clear the puck out of the zone with a pass and get a two-on-one out of it. Elliot Desnoyers skated in to the zone and fired the shot pas Primeau to make it 2-0.
The Rocket weren’t outplayed and had several chances throughout the game, including three power plays in the first two periods. Gabriel Bourque, Xavier Simoneau, and Alex Belzile notably came close several times, but Ersson was there to make the saves.
Laval’s power play finally took advantage of their chances in the third period. Just 2:22 into the third period, Justin Barron fired a shot past Ersson to get the Rocket on the board. It was his third goal of the season, and was a just reward for a very good game up to that point.
A few minutes later, former Rocket Louie Belpedio took an interference penalty, and the Rocket took advantage to tie the game. Great puck movement from Barron to Rem Pitlick, who then went to Simoneau down low who found a pinching Jesse Ylönen on the other side of the net. Ylönen made no mistake for his fourth of the year.
Barron didn’t get an official assist on the goal, but his presence on the power play was definitely a factor on the goal.
Just 1:30 after Ylönen tied it, the Phantoms went back in front. Primeau made the initial save on a three-on-one rush, but the puck got back to Cam York, who had tons of space to walk in and fire a shot past Primeau to make it 3-2.
It was York’s second game-winning goal against the Rocket in a week, as he scored the overtime winner when the two teams played at Place Bell in Laval.
Later in the third period, Barron had a chance to tie the game, but hit the post behind Ersson. The Rocket had a power play chance with 3:56 remaining in the game when Adam Ginning went off for holding, but they could not get much going. They pulled Primeau late in the power play, and kept him out once the penalty ended, but they were unable to get the tying goal. The Rocket power play ended the game 2/7.
The Rocket stay in Pennsylvania and will head from Allentown to Hershey to play the Bears on Sunday. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
The only change for the Rocket from Friday’s game was that Primeau got the start over Kevin Poulin and that Joël Teasdale entered the lineup for Jan Mysak, who missed his first game of the season. Jean-François Houle was likely trying to ease the pressure on some of the young players with the three games in three days. Alex Green, Nicolas Beaudin, and Mitchell Stephens were the other healthy scratches.
Primeau played well, despite facing fewer shots than his opponent. He kept Laval in it, and was faced with several odd-man rushes. He made 22 saves.